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Why We Must Speak Out

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I wish to explain why I am proceeding to sue the New York state legislature for abdicating their duty to protect our elections. In my Open letter to NY citizens, election workers and election commissioners, I provide the background that brings us to the current state:

"Our time-tested electoral system, which required as its core principles the participation of human beings to watch and observe and check against fraud, is about to be eliminated... The current state legislature has cast 150 years of legislative wisdom out the window in passing statutes that undermine the very foundational cornerstones of our electoral laws."

In the briefest terms, I am bringing this lawsuit because when our government fails us as miserably as it has, our system provides that it is the judiciary to whom we should turn to stop the legislature from behaving in derogation of its responsibility to protect our constitutional right to vote.

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Our electoral system has always required a transparent, observable highly safeguarded process to ensure the integrity of our vote. The safeguards, intended to prevent the opportunities for fraud and manipulation, which we have enjoyed for well over a century, will be rendered nonexistent if we permit our vote counting to be concealed within the unobservable processes of a computer. It doesn't matter what kind of computer - be it a DRE or Optical Scanner - software driven devices have been shown to be highly vulnerable to manipulation without detection.

We know all systems can be manipulated regardless of the level of security provided, but it should be known that software driven voting systems provide no security. The protocols used to secure computerized financial transactions cannot be applied to voting systems because a voter's identity cannot be linked to her choices, whereas bank debits and credits must be linked to a specific customer.

Anonymous ballots are requisite to free and fair elections. Anonymous bank transactions don't happen. The level of secrecy required for elections renders computerized systems unaccountable and inappropriate.

Even with the strict standards and expert oversight an institution such as Hannaford Supermarkets provides, this month it revealed that its computers were hacked for a three month period beginning last December. Hackers accessed 4.2 million credit cards used in six states and Canada, including those belonging to shoppers in its Florida Sweetbay stores, and all independent retailers that sold Hannaford products.

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Hannaford speculated that a single person - a vendor technician or a rogue hacker - could have remotely or directly installed malware into the servers. Every one of its grocery stores in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and elsewhere, were hacked. Even though it met credit card compliance standards, and notwithstanding its firewalls, virus checks and close scrutiny, Hannaford did not discover the breach until after learning that 2,000 instances of credit card fraud had occurred.

"Just because they are compliant, it doesn't mean they are safe," said Graham Cluley, technology consultant for Sophos, Inc., a Burlington computer security firm.

In software driven election systems, no such mechanisms are in place that would trigger such an investigation. We'd never know. Voter names are not linked to voter choices. Malware can be self-erasing and completely undetectable. The use of software driven systems is no way to run a democratic electoral system.

The stakes are a lot higher when we're talking about controlling the U.S. treasury, a far more desirable target than 4.2 million credit cards. And we're talking about nothing less than our sovereignty when voting computers are hacked.

We in New York reside in the only state that has not yet computerized its electoral system. Please ask yourself again, What you are willing to do for your freedom, before the theft-enabling machines are installed in New York?

If you do nothing else, write to your newspapers and local media outlets. Demand coverage and investigation. Write to your legislators and send them a copy of my letter. Let them know they should be ashamed of themselves. Write to our new governor; see what he's willing to do.

Together we can restore integrity to our elections.

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Andrea T. Novick, Esq.

Rady Ananda contributed to this article.


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